Roosevelt Institute at W&L

The Roosevelt Institute is a nonprofit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by developing progressive ideas and bold leadership in the service of restoring America's promise of opportunity for all.


I.) History of the Roosevelt Institute

Created in 1987, the Roosevelt Institute started as a merger between the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Foundation. It was intended to combine the legacy values of the Roosevelt family, as well as aid in the development of progressive ideas and bold leadership. In 2007, another partner known as the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network merged with the Roosevelt Institute in order to provide youth a voice in political decisions. This directly led to the development of the Roosevelt Institute across colleges and universities in the nation.

II.) Mission Statement of Roosevelt@W&L

The Roosevelt Institute at W&L empowers Washington and Lee students to re-define the rules that guide social and economic realities in the W&L community and beyond, through the construction and implementation of progressive policy changes.

III.) Requirements for Membership

All students enrolled at Washington and Lee University are welcome to apply for membership at the Roosevelt Institute at Washington and Lee University, through a competitive application and interview process. Prospective applicants are encouraged to attend any information sessions regarding this organization before applying for membership. Upon officers' review of written applications, members will be selected based on demonstrated interest, skills, and character. If interviews are required, the interviewing panel shall include at least two Executive Team members. The President reserves the right to invite any other representatives of the Roosevelt Institute to aid in the interviewing process. If the prospective member is accepted, he/she will receive an offer to join Roosevelt Institute at Washington and Lee University, and he/she will ascend to their position during the fall term, or, in special cases, in a rolling admissions process at other points during the year.

IV.) Organization of Leadership Positions

The Roosevelt Institute at Washington and Lee University shall have a hierarchical organization of leadership. The organization is made up of four different positions: The President, Vice President, Policy Advisors, Treasurer, and General Members. The Executive Team consists of the President, Vice President, and Policy Advisors. Each Executive Team member will be appointed by a combined nomination and election process. Members shall join through a separate application process, which is described under the "Requirements for Membership" section.

a.) The President

The President is responsible for the leadership of the institute, keeping a schedule of events, and calling for and running regular meetings of the institute. The President reserves the right to make final decisions when conflicts arise, and shall have the ultimate responsibility of ensuring the proper functioning of the Roosevelt Institute. The current President shall serve a one-year term, with eligibility for re-election for up to four years. The President will assume leadership after serving as Vice President for the prior semester. In the semester prior to resignation/graduation, the President will work closely with his/her Vice President to ensure a smooth leadership transition. The Vice President will be elected through the process described in part (b) below. If the President is deemed unfit, impeachment procedures may begin through a unanimous vote among the Vice President, Policy Advisors, and Treasurer, after which impeachment will be decided by a popular vote among all members. Should the President resign/be impeached mid-term, the Vice President will assume the position of President immediately.

b.) Vice President

The Vice President (who may concurrently hold a position as Policy Advisor) will work closely with the President and assume many of the responsibilities of President during his/her one-semester term prior to running for Presidency. Candidates for Vice President will be selected through a general body election, and must have served at least one semester in a position on the Executive Team prior to running for Vice President. Should the Vice President be deemed unfit, the Executive Team holds the right to decide by popular vote to impeach said Vice President effective immediately. Should the Vice President resign/be impeached mid-term, a Policy Advisor will be appointed by the President to serve as interim Vice President until another round of elections can be held and a new Vice President is elected.

c.) Policy Advisor

The Policy Advisors are responsible for completing any duties that the President assigns, ensuring the function of the policy making initiatives, which can include helping with policy making workshops and policy group discussions, and managing the duties of Roosevelt Institute Members. Policy Advisors are selected through a general election, held in late winter term preceding their rise to leadership the following fall term. New Policy Advisors can be nominated and elected on a rolling basis should the need arise. Policy Advisors will also serve a one-year term with eligibility for re-election for up to four years. There will be up to four Policy Advisors at any given time.

d.) Treasurer

The Treasurer (who must hold a concurrent position in the Executive Team) is responsible for managing the Roosevelt Institute's funds. This may include, but is not limited to, applying for Executive Committee funding, making payments, keeping track of funds, and providing financial data to The President and Vice Presidents whenever necessary. Other financial responsibilities may be assigned by The President in order to ensure financial soundness of the Roosevelt Institute. The treasurer may also help direct the Executive Team in performing financial duties or making financial decisions. The Treasurer shall be appointed by application and Executive Team vote and will serve a one-year term with eligibility for re-election for up to four years. Should the Treasurer be deemed unfit, the President reserves the right to impeach the Treasurer, at which point the Executive Team will elect a new Treasurer.

e.) General Members

General Members will operate under the guidance of Policy Advisors in order to write and implement policy through The Roosevelt Institute at Washington and Lee. General Members will have the opportunity to assume one or more of the above listed positions through the processes described previously.

V.) Benefit to Washington and Lee University

On campus, the Roosevelt Institute is unique from any existing organization, as it creates a non-partisan framework for effecting positive change. In line with Washington and Lee University policy, this organization will not be used to forward partisan interests or promote specific political candidates. In the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, this organization aims to give a voice to undergraduate students across the U.S., many of whom have the potential to implement solutions that their predecessors might not be able to imagine. This is different from existing organizations such as College Democrats and Run for America for the following reasons: (1) This is a strictly non-partisan organization, which aims to invite people from all sides of the political spectrum, whether Republicans, Democrats, or other. (2) The Roosevelt Institute is not only an organization for politically-minded individuals; it is an organization with a diverse group of members from almost every discipline and career interest area, including English, history, health, and psychology. (3) The Roosevelt Institute does more than facilitate open dialogue and brainstorm solutions-we start the process of effecting change through both awareness campaigns and actual implementation of policy changes at the local, state, and federal level. Finally, (4) The Roosevelt goes beyond the borders of W&L to achieve these goals, through collaboration and regular informational speaker sessions with representatives of local non-profits and other organizations, as well as research that identifies the root causes of these issues within the Rockbridge area community.

Through identifying systemic issues in the community, writing policy solutions to these issues, participating in roundtable discussions with visiting speakers from Rockbridge County and beyond, and executing awareness projects on campus and in the wider W&L community, this organization will empower W&L students to do more than understand the problems in their community: this organization will empower them to solve those problems. From grassroots educational campaigns to overarching policy changes, the Roosevelt Institute aims to collaborate with students and campus and community stakeholders to create more ideal communities, using a multi-faceted, student-driven, sustainable approach. Executive Committee funding would be used to support awareness campaigns and other projects that facilitate open discussion on campus.

Nationally, the Roosevelt Institute is a national network of diverse thinkers and doers working to re-think and re-shape everything from local policy to federal legislation, orienting toward a new system, designed by many for the good of all. Washington and Lee University, in establishing a "Roosevelt@" chapter on campus, will join this network to create policy that serves the needs of W&L students, the Lexington/Rockbridge area, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and even the United States as a whole. As a member of this national network, Washington and Lee will gain visibility and support not only from the Washington and Lee community, but also from other chapters in Virginia, the mid-Atlantic region, and across the United States. In this way, Roosevelt@W&L's mission and strategy are incredibly unique: unlike any other organization on campus, Roosevelt is specifically dedicated to approaching community empowerment with regard to relevant policy issues, in conjunction with a network of 12,000 students on more than 100 college campuses nationwide. Roosevelt @ W&L is a space where progressive Generals can create positive systemic change in the Washington and Lee community and beyond.